Spew, poo and some more travelling!
Trip Start Aug 14, 2003
22Trip End Jan 15, 2004
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At about midday I felt like I could possibly go 20 minutes without a toilet and got on a bus to Pii, in Thailand's north. Luckily I could make longer than 20 minutes, because the bus was longer than I thought!
Pii is a small village set on the banks of a river in amongst beautiful mountains
I ended up wandering around looking for a hostel at the same time as a girl from Germany (?), and seeing as we were both on a shoestring budget, decided that sharing a double bed in a hut by the river with a strange girl was a good option!
We spent a day hooning (well chugging!) around on a moped, checking out the mountains and some hot springs. The hot springs were definitely a unique sight, but the smell of sulphur and the already sweltering weather made us decide to go have a swim in the local pool instead!
On another day, I hired a pushbike and rode out into mountains on the other side of town to check out a waterfall. The ride was long, steep and hot, but definitely worth it. It was crazy to see lush jungle suddenly open out into massive scars of stripped and burnt land. I vaguely recalled Ms Stef mentioning slash-and-burn methods of farming in Geography and how I'd been outraged at the environmental degradation it causes. Seeing whole families working the fields with burning poles of wood and machetes in Pii made me see it in a whole different light though: this is what so many people have to work with, and there's no such thing as just buying fertile land somewhere else, or better still making a living in some other way. Discussing the pros and cons of farming methods in a foreign country during a high school geography class, though important and eye-opening, seemed almost comical!
My nights in Pii were spent either around a campfire in a lovely Thai woman's restaurant, at one of the pubs/clubs or legless on the bridge near my hut...!
When I'd had enough of the cushy comfort of Pii, and didn't really feel like getting back into the hustle and bustle of Thailand's south, I went down the road to Cave Lodge, a hostel set in the mountains near a massive cave, which was run by two Australian guys. The place was a bit of a retreat, because it was at least a ten minute motorbike ride to the nearest town and it was nestled in a beautiful patch of jungle. So I spent my days hiking in the surrounding hills, checking out villages, getting lost and playing soccer with some of the local boys who thought a girl playing was hilarious! The nearby cave was fantastic: part of the tour (we had to take a tour of it), needed to be done by boat, which was really eerie in the dark, and the rest was spent scrambling over slippery rocks. There was some nice formations, and a cavern that had once had hanging coffins in it, but the highlight was watching thousands of bats leaving the cave at sunset to go hunting!!!
Given the nature of the lodge, being secluded and all, I was bound to meet some odd characters out there. One guy was an Indian-Malay from my dorm, who was a great follower of the Hare Krishna movement, had been there for weeks and apparently liked to take people for walks. A Russian girl leaving as I arrived vaguely warned me that he was a bit strange, but I decided I'd hang out with him for a day anyway. He showed me some really nice villages and we had great debates about religion and spirituality and just as I was wondering what the Russian girl had been on about, he said he wanted to show me something just to the side of the path. It was daylight and we were in a village, so I walked over to where he was revealing a pile of...POO!!! I was totally confused at the look of wonder on his face and asked him if it was some rare animal's or something. Turned out it was HIS and he was doing an experiment to see what happened to poo after you left it in the open. He was excited to tell me that after a week, it was now going hard and crusty. I was excited to get on the next bus to Mae Hong Son.
This town was even further up north than Cave Lodge, and I'm not sure why I chose to go there, because I was headed south...I guess the poo fumes had me all confused...I was really really happy though to discover that Hauk was staying in my hostel though (his name was in the guest book), so I quickly bolted up to his room and bashed at the door till Hauk answered. But Hauk was not the Hauk I had met previously: instead a very confused German man in his underpants stared at me sleepily from the doorway!!! Oops. Wrong Hauk.
I worked out that if I was going to catch Am and Maya in Sukothai for Christmas, I would have to get on the next day's bus back to Chiang Mai and travel to Sukothai direct from there. So after a whole 14 hours in Mae Hong Son, which I had slept through most of, I jumped on yet another bus. Luckily the scenery was beautiful and I have no regrets about making the long trip out there.